Sharing thoughts about Taylor Hicks and concert travels and other musical musings!

Wednesday, May 30, 2007

The Deer in the Headlights, or Do I Creep You Out

I’m reminded of a sight I recently saw. A roped off area in a large crowded venue. A group of seventy-five middle age women. Everyone chatting at fever pitch, patiently waiting for the doors to open before the rush to find the best place to stand or sit. An appearance of six to eight men in sheriff’s deputy-style uniforms. The quick screams and impassioned pleas from the victorious crowd.

And then I saw it. That ‘deer in the headlights’ look. The look that tells you the person has just realized where he or she is. The look that says ‘will I be safe’ or ‘will I survive’ or ‘oh no, I’m about to be hit’. You know that look. One of surprise yet fear.

As the crowd gasps and screams, the victim looks to the deputies and says a simple ‘please stick close to me’. The adoration must at times be equally as frightening as seeing a car with its lights on bright barreling down the highway at midnight on a lonely stretch of road. I stood watching the scene, and yet felt the fear.

It was over almost as soon as it happened. The squadron took charge of the prey and quickly disappeared. When I questioned where they took him, all anyone could say was ‘they went that way’. This group of protectors disappeared in the crowd of unsuspecting guests. I was sorry I hadn’t been closer to the front lines rather than behind the crowd.

Perhaps there was a reason for my inability to be part of the crowd that time. It was getting warm in the crowd so I had moved to a more open area to cool off. And to watch.

Have I been guilty of such behavior? Have I spooked the ‘deer’ myself? These were questions I should have asked myself as I watched the scene. Instead, I was feeling disappointed that I had not been on the front line for the victory sighting or a camera in hand to capture the moment.

Now that I’ve had time to reflect, I realize that the prey was not an animal or a god. He was a person. A person just like me. A man that eats, sleeps, breaths just like me. A human being. Not someone that I’m entitled to a piece of. Not someone that I will ever know on a more personal or intimate level. But a human being, just the same.

I had to step back and realize this. What must this young man have been thinking when he saw the scene I saw? Must he have wished to be somewhere else? Must he have thought “Is this the price of stardom that I must pay?” In a play on his first single, did we creep you out?

For many of us, we have mounted the deer on a pedestal as a trophy. Collecting pictures, clamoring for autographs, screaming and cheering at every sighting. Waiting by back doors, standing near the tour buses, checking out the hotel lobbies and floors. Hoping for that special moment when we can reach out and touch the ‘deer’.

We voted so many times that season. We purchased concert tickets. We made hotel and airplane reservations. We paid many a cab fare and car rental. I’m guilty as charged, I admit it. I’ve had a great time in the process. But what disturbed me most, was seeing that look, you know it, ‘the deer in the headlights look’.

So if perchance I too have spooked you at one time or another, please accept my most humble and heart-felt apologies. I meant no harm. I just wanted a special moment, a special memory. Some small part of you, like a personal picture or autograph.

The next time I see you out on your own or in a protective group, I will remember what I saw that night. That quick look of fear. You are paying the price of having your dreams fulfilled. And it has been a very high price. I just have to remember that you are doing what you love most in this world, and that’s playing your music for us. And that I just have to sit back and enjoy it. That’s gift enough for me.

For you who are reading this, take this to heart. I know you adore Taylor Hicks as much as I do. For most of us older and supposedly wiser women, it’s probably more of a motherly affection. Or a quick reminder of our lost youth or remaining days. But we need to remember, first and foremost, that he are a man, not a god, that he are not prey to mounted on the wall or an idol to be put on a pedestal, but a voice to be shared and enjoyed.

We need to give you space and time to enjoy your success. We need to give you freedom without fear. And most of all, I pray that I never see that ‘deer in the headlights’ look in your face ever again.

Wednesday, May 23, 2007

Good-bye American Idol (the TV Show, Not Taylor Hicks)

As I’m sitting here watching the finale of American Idol Season 6, I don’t know whether to forget watching it, gnash my teeth, say a few impolite words, or write a blog entry. I’ll write a blog entry.

I must confess I didn’t watch much of this season’s show. Why, your probably want to know. Well, how do I feel about American Idol, let me count the ways.

First, the majority of the top 10 from Season 5 earned recording contracts. While that’s not a bad thing (really a great deal for the contestants), most put out their debut albums before Taylor Hicks, the season winner. Only Katherine McPhee released her debut album after Taylor Hicks! And if I’m not mistaken, every album was self-titled. Well, maybe Chris Daughtry only used his last name (OK, the name of his band), but it’s still self-titled.

Second, all publicity seemed to be geared towards selling Chris Daughtry, a rock singer. Keep in mind that he made it to the final four before being voted off. And remember that rock seems to be the genre of music that sells. My observation tells me that Chris was promoted to everyone, not just his supporting fan boards, but everywhere. Taylor Hicks’ publicity seemed to be directed toward the Soul Patrol that frequented the fan boards. We were already hooked and devoted, but what about the Season 5 viewers that loved and voted for Taylor that had no idea he had released an album or been on tour all spring?

Third, when reading any sort of press release about album sales or live performances, it seems Chris was touted as the leader, constantly out selling Taylor Hicks. Critics seemed to prefer Chris to Taylor. Had the critics seen both performers live, or heard their CDs, for that matter? Were they basing their write ups on material released by Arista/J Records? I don’t know the answer but I do have my opinions.

Fourth, quotes flying around the internet gave the impression that American Idol producers expected Chris, not Taylor, to win. Chris seemed to be the golden boy with their support, rather than Taylor Hicks, who actually won the show. Please, I’m not bashing Chris – he deserves his chance for a break too – but should he have been promoted to the detriment of the actual winner? That’s what it seemed to me the producers were trying to do.

Fifth, when American Idol Season 6 was doing the American Idol Gives Back shows, Taylor was seen in a video talking about giving back. That was great. But what about an introduction besides putting his name under his face? Weren’t other guests introduced first before they spoke? Did I miss something?

And now for the finale. Last year, the prior year winner, Carrie Underwood, opened the show. This year, Season One winner Kelly Clarkson sang the first song. Huh? Where was Taylor? Right after the commercial starting the last 30 minutes of the finale. Again no introduction. Alright, Ryan Seacrest said his name after Taylor exited the stage. Were people watching wondering who the heck was singing? Did they remember that Taylor Hicks was last year’s winner and that he was passing the torch to Jordin Sparks or Blake Lewis? The audience at the Kodak Theatre seemed to know given the cheers and applause they heaped on Taylor during his performance. At least Kelly Clarkson was kind enough to introduce Taylor during the Beatles’ St. Pepper medley!

And then there was Clive Davis’ summation of Idol success. Taylor might pull out success with his newest single, “Heaven Knows” from his debut album, “Taylor Hicks”. Chris Daughtry was the highest selling new singer for the year. OK, I wonder why that happened. Any responses? After all, who picked “Just to Feel That Way” to be the original single after “The Runaround” was performed on television before the Christmas holidays? The same person who was saying Taylor might be able to pull out his sales to push his album? Platinum now, or if “Heaven Knows” is successful?

As I watched Taylor Hicks perform “Heaven Knows”, I thought about all the live performances I’ve seen over the past several months. While a great version of the song (Taylor always nails this song, no matter where he performs it), it lacked some of the showmanship that you get when you see it live. I think that was due in part to using the American Idol orchestra/band rather than having Taylor Hicks’ band back him up. Also, the back up vocals had more voices than you generally heard during the spring tour. Now the harmonica tonight was killer, not that it usually isn’t. At least Taylor got to move about the stage which has become his signature style, going from the stage to the platform behind the judges. This was the real Taylor – the one I have spent my daughter’s inheritance to see many times this spring. The Taylor I enjoy watching perform!

But the song Taylor sang as part of the Beatles’ medley seemed at times, to be to in a key too high for his voice. Was this deliberate on the part of the show’s producers? I hope not. Taylor did a great job, but when he performing his style of music, he gives a dynamite performance! And the song didn’t provide much of a format for Taylor to dance. It’s fine, Randy, if you decide to say it was a bit pitchy, and not the right choice for Taylor. I would have to agree. But it was fun to see Taylor on the stage in that silver satin shirt giving it his best!

What about a brief interview before the end of the show to see how Taylor as done this year? A mention about the spring tour just completed and the summer tour about to start? How about a chance to plug Taylor’s book, “Heart Full of Soul” coming out in July? Even the outgoing Miss America gets that much! And didn’t Carrie Underwood get that as well? She got to thank American Idol for spring-boarding her to success during Clive Davis’ speech.

Well, now that Taylor has passed the gauntlet to Jordin Sparks, I can retire the DVR and remote. No more watching American Idol’s future seasons. No more watching auditions. No more snide remarks from Simon Cowell. No more coddling by Paula Abdul. No more wondering whether someone’s in the “dawg pound” or not. No more cheesey Ford commercials. Should perchance Taylor Hicks perform in the future I reserve the right to reconsider my position.

But what I’m impressed with most of all is how Taylor Hicks, the American Idol Season 5 winner has conducted himself. He has always been the consumate professional. He has said repeatedly that he is grateful to American Idol for the chance he has had to further his musical career. Whenever the stats are compared for Chris and Taylor, Taylor has always taken the position that the numbers aren’t all that important to him, that he and Chris are different types of performers in different genres of music, and that Chris is talented in his own right. Every time something negative happened, Taylor Hicks took the high road. If it seemed that American Idol stuck their nose up at his, Taylor held his head high and kept on going, kept on saying positive things about the show.

Maybe there are things we don’t know that has caused this rift. Maybe this is just the way it is. Maybe Taylor’s head-strong approach to his career was more than the producers could handle. Who knows, who cares (besides the die-hard fans). Taylor was always a gentleman, and that’s what is most important. At least to me.

So good-bye American Idol, the TV show. I won’t be back, unless you happen to have Taylor Hicks on to perform. My Tuesday and Wednesday nights are now free. Maybe I can now get caught up with scrapbooking about my adventures this spring seeing all the Taylor Hicks 2007 Whomp Tour shows. Maybe I can read a few more books. Maybe I’ll go to a few more Taylor Hicks concerts.

Wednesday, May 16, 2007

The Traveling Circus May Be Sleepless But It Wants Moore After Seattle

The day Taylor Hicks was looking forward to and the one I hated to see arrive was finally here. The last day of the Taylor Hicks 2007 Whomp Tour. The tour of 55 shows in 52 cities was coming to a close in Seattle at the Moore Theatre. I had been to almost half of them, tonight being number 24! What must I have been thinking when I booked all of these trips? Did I really do this? Had I really been to this many shows? Yes, just count the blog recaps to prove it! And now it was ending.

My little group of circus clowns woke up early Saturday morning so we would have plenty of time to dress and drive from Portland to Seattle. With five women in two rooms with two bathrooms we needed all the time we could get! The ringleader in the other room decided to go get come coffee and muffins for us. Thank goodness! I don’t think I could have gotten ready without some nourishment, much less have attempted to jump through any hoops!

As I got ready to leave Portland, I started to feel a bit nostalgic about my adventures. I’llve rolled up the tent in many a city, boarded a few planes to get from one point to another, rented a few cars along the way, and wondered just what all this had cost. Never mind, that’s what VISA and MasterCard are for – and why I work full-time when I’m not on the road. But somewhere along the way, I decided I could have gone on a two-week exotic cruise for the same amount of money, but I would never have meet all the Soul Patrol members that I had nor seen all the beautiful theatres and cities I visited.

I recall reading where one husband shook Taylor’s hand because he wanted to meet the man ‘that was taking his wife and money all over the country’! I suppose my banker would like to do the same thing! All I can say, I’m spending my daughter’s inheritance and having a ball in the process!

We loaded up the car and headed north (at least that’s the direction I think we took!) for Seattle. The mountain ranges were beautiful in the background. I pulled out my trusty camera and took pictures as we drove along the interstate. A few farms, a couple of streams, a lake or two, pines trees in several species, and some yellow bushy flowers along the way made the drive peaceful and enjoyable. Since I wasn’t driving, I knew we wouldn’t get lost. Keep in mind, I’m directionally challenged and tend to get lost easily.

After a few of hours we were in Seattle. We drove by the Moore Theatre and saw the Moore Hotel. We weren’t staying there, and when we had trouble finding our hotel, we called to see if they had any rooms available. We might as well walk to the theatre. I should have realized when I saw the windows were open that there might not be any central air conditioning. When we were looking for places to pitch our tents for the night, I recall reading that guests might have to share bathrooms, and that’s not my idea of fun! So I didn’t book there.

After a couple of phone calls to our hotel, we found it at the bottom of the city near the waterfront. When I say bottom, think of the streets of San Francisco that make you think you are on a roller coaster ride – well that’s the way it was getting to our hotel! One big roller coaster that went straight down hill with narrow landings at each light. Please, brakes, don’t fail us now! We checked in and decided we needed to take a nap. Thank goodness, because it was going to be a long night!

The doors were scheduled to open at 7:00 and we wanted to eat dinner before we went in. There was this dive of a bar three or four down from the theatre so we went there to grab something quick. The food was good, service a bit slow, and refills came for a price. But the fireplace was burning and provided much needed warmth. It was windy and cold outside, and I didn’t bring a sweatshirt or jacket. Of course later in the night I would ask someone to “please break the wind for me” when what I really wanted was for them to shield me from the wind! My bad! I must have been tired for that slip of the tongue to happen. But then, what could I expect when I’m part of the traveling circus of fans that have followed Taylor Hicks all over the US for the past three months!

By the time we finished eating and walked back to the Moore Theatre, the doors were open and we could go in to find our seats. Earlier in the week I had visited TicketMaster and found a couple of front row seats at regular price. I wanted to be close to the stage for the last show, so I bought them. The seating chart indicated I might be a couple of rows back because of VIP seating, but alas, wrong picture! I was on the front row, dead center! What a coup!

The opening montage started right at 8:00. Brian Less introduced Taylor Hicks and the crowd rose to its collective feet clapping and cheering! Taylor comes out waving to the crowd and immediately started singing his own original song, “Soul Thing”. Thanks Taylor for doing that song!

The opening song was followed by “Give Me Tonight”. The audience was quite willing to do so and any other night Taylor wanted as well! Strap on a guitar, and “Hell of a Day” tagged with “Another Brick in the Wall” was next. For Taylor and the traveling circus, the Whomp tour was one hell of a tour, and now the tour was closing. When it was time to give up the guitar, Taylor was playing with Ted (the guy on stage in the red cap who always hands Taylor the guitar) by running away from him. Ted made several attempts to get the guitar, but Taylor kept moving away from him. Not to be outdone, Ted took the microphone. Finally the game ended and Taylor gave up the guitar and took the mike! It was nice to see the guys having some fun on the last night!

Time to cure all ills with “Medicated Goo” and lots of cowbell! As Taylor was singing, he walked over and helped Melanie with her drums and bongos. At one point he mistook her backside for the drums – oh wait, that was deliberate! Now that we were feeling no pain, we get Taylor’s current single, “Just to Feel That Way”. Yes, we were feeling it too! Taylor was smiling and dancing the entire time! He was definitely happy and giving us the best he had to give. The circus was going to close with its best performance to date!

There were times when Taylor would dance around and go behind the stage. Some chatting with the audience reminded us that tonight was the last show of the tour. And that the next tour started in 48 hours! Whooo! The circus will travel this summer! Don’t put away the suitcases just yet!

A couple of original songs from Taylor’s pre-Idol independent CD, “My Friend”, “The Deal”, and “Hold On to Your Love” were performed. The audience really seems to connect and enjoy Taylor’s original music. I must confess, so do I, but then, Taylor could probably sing the alphabet, and I’d like that just as much! He has such a soothing soulful voice, a whiskey tenor sound that keeps one begging for more!

A few tags get interspersed. Part of “Jump in the Line”, “The Tide is High” and “Ain’t it Funny How Times Slips Away”. Sure is funny – the concert tour has ended in the fastest three months I’ve seen. Perhaps because we’re having fun. Perhaps because I’m getting older that time just seems to fly. Whatever, the tour was winding down tonight. And Taylor was on fire, giving us the best performance since the tour began.

A couple of covers, “Compared to What” and “Long Train Running” gave us a fast paced and harp-blowing Taylor. He was all over the place. Dancing from one side to the other, stopping in the middle of the stage for the center section to get a better view. That was how Taylor was performing tonight. I was glad I had center front row seats. I was getting lots of time up close and personal, well up close really, with Taylor as he gave the best performance of the tour.

Back to Taylor’s self-titled CD for “Heaven Knows”, “The Maze”, “The Right Place” and “The Runaround”. Ah, funk, soul, rock ‘n roll, and happiness! A great combination! Even the tags were great – “What’d I Say”, “Maybelline”, “Angel from Montgomery”, “Mama Said (There’d Be Days Like This)”, “Dust My Broom” and “Big Boss Man”. Also some comic relief!

When Taylor introduced “The Right Place”, he pretended not to remember the title of the song! He just pointed to his head and waited a few seconds! He also did a guitar jam with Josh and Al! What versatility Taylor has!

As “The Runaround” was ending, Taylor was saluting the individual members of the band. He brought out the stage crew, Ted, Tim, Bill, Chris and the sound board guy that is seldom seen. They took their bows as the band continued to play. Taylor was acknowledging everyone that helped stage the show each night. Tonight was our night to meet everyone that we hadn’t met before.

As the stage is set for the encore, a stool is brought out. The stool is the sign for a Taylor solo with just his guitar and the audience. Ah, Taylor’s original music, “The Fall”, a song he wrote when he was 19! His talent was just beginning! As Taylor sang, you could have ‘heard a pin drop’ as the theatre was so quite except for a few cheers and an occasional “we love you, Taylor”. Pure ecstasy, I tell you! And I had tears rolling down my cheeks as Taylor sang. I think most of the audience did too!

When the song ended, Taylor gave up the guitar and the band returned to the stage and their places. Loren started the familiar notes. What?!?! “Do I Make You Proud”! If I had placed a bet, it would have been any song other than that one! We had not heard that song for the entire tour! I was expecting “Placed I’ve Been” but no, we get “Do I Make You Proud”. Well, yes, Taylor, you sure do make us proud!

After a few bars, Melanie steps up to the center and starts singing “Dancing Queen”! “Dancing Queen”? What a choice! Taylor is a dancing maniac now. He’s doing all sorts of moves with Melanie, including a hula-belly dance! Whooo! The audience is going wild! The cheers, the applause! This was fantastic to witness! And then back to “Do I Make You Proud” to finish out the encore.

During one of the guitar jams, Josh is really on fire! He puts the guitar behind his head to play. And then he plays it with his teeth! We hadn't had the pleasure of that kind of show the entire tour! Even Al was all over the stage doing his boogie dance!

Taylor leaves the stage waving but stops just out of sight. He comes back and holds up a single finger – one more song! A second encore! “Badge”! We’re going down in flames tonight! The circus is going to close with a bang! And then it was over. Taylor left the stage for good, the band walked away, the lights came on and the stage crew started breaking down the instruments and set. The tour was officially over. And Seattle saw the final show!

We left the theatre and gathered outside to see if Taylor would come out. It was cold and windy. Most of us there weren’t prepared for the cold. After all, most of the tour had been in the south or warmer east and west coast. I even asked the cab driver on the way back to the hotel if it was supposed to snow, it felt that cold to me! We waited for a bit, and then decided to cross the street to have dinner.

As we looked over the menus, we could see the crowd near the alley get excited! Taylor and company came from the alley and walked up the sidewalk, going through the middle of the small crowd. Taylor was pulling his own rolling suitcase behind him! He must have signaled something because the crowd remained after Taylor disappeared.

All of a sudden, the crowd was getting excited and we could see a flashlight over a tall young man wearing a gray flannel toboggan style cap. Taylor had come back to sign autographs before leaving the concert area!

Now what do think was about to happen? A couple of us jumped up from the table, took our show souvenirs (I had the drum stick that Taylor used to play the cowbell – don’t ask, I won’t tell!) and ran across the street to join the clamoring crowd. As I walked up, Bill (who was holding the flashlight) saw me and called out to Taylor, “hey Taylor, you need to sign something for Mandy because she had followed you all over the country!” With that, Taylor reached out, turned me around, and signed my shirt!

When I regained my composure, I realized he had signed my shirt but not the drumstick! I told Taylor it was the drumstick I wanted signed, and he signed it! I later had to ask my companions what really happened because it happened so fast! Taylor had turned me around so he could sign my shirt! Don’t worry, folks, he signed the back!

As we were leaving to go back to the restaurant (the remaining group was still at the table watching us and probably laughing), one lady suggested that we yell out “we love you, Taylor” on the count of three. We broke out of our huddle, counted to three, and yelled out “We Love You, Taylor” and quickly turned around and ran across the street like a bunch of 10-year old girls. No one looked back to see what happened. We were too busy giggling! And we ranged in age from forty-ish to whatever! But we were too excited and happy to care!

We ordered dinner and ate it with relish because we were all hungry! We chatted for quite a while and then decided it was time to go to our hotels to pack for home and get a few hours of sleep. My party hailed a cab and went back to our hotel. We packed, laid out clothes for the next morning’s trip home, and tried to get a few hours of sleep. Tried is what I did. After all, we were in Seattle, and I’d been sleepless for the last couple of week-ends and nights enjoying Taylor Hicks in concert.

Getting to the airport was easy. Saying good-bye to friends wasn’t. I checked in at the Northwest e-ticket counter, and was offered a chance to upgrade to first class. Got to love having silver elite status. I accepted. I would have to be on a wait list out of Seattle, but would have first class on the Minneapolis to Memphis flight. That was fine with me.

I stopped by the Northwest World Club lounge to charge my cell phone and get a club membership. When it was time to board, I packed up my laptop and went to the gate. I checked to see if first class was full and was rewarded with a first class seat! Alright! Bigger seats! Lunch! First class all the way back home! I was feeling good! Maybe I could even take a nap!

As the plane took off from Seattle, I watched out the window to see if I would be able to see any snow capped mountains. I was rewarded with seeing the top of Mt. Rainier sticking out through the top of the clouds. The clouds made it look like snow-covered ground at the foot of the mountain. But it wasn’t! Mt. Rainier is so high that its peak is often covered by clouds, and today was no exception. I grabbed my camera and took a few pictures.

By the time I arrived back in Memphis, I had sorted through my photographs and started writing my Portland blog. I had read a couple of chapters of a book and taken a nap. I was ready to be home. I needed time to rest and reflect. Now that I’ve had a couple of days at home, I ready for the summer tour to start.

But alas, the traveling circus needs more time to recharge its batteries, sort through all the pictures taken, catch up with paperwork and house cleaning and muck out the circus tent. Even my cats, a couple of Ragdolls, are threatening a lock-out if I don’t stay home for a couple of weeks!

Keep watching, because when the summer tour starts in Tupelo the first week-end in June, you can bet the traveling circus will be there, ready to capture the concert with pictures and tales for the blog!

Until then…..remember come summer, the Traveling Circus is “Gonna Move” through “The Maze” because “Heaven Knows” with all the “Places I’ve Been” I’m going to wind up in “The Right Place”, whether it’s to take “The Fall” or make “The Deal” you won’t get “The Runaround” if you “Give Me Tonight” because it’s a “Soul Thing”!

Pictures from The Moore Theatre, Seattle, WA

Monday, May 14, 2007

The Traveling Circus Sees the Crystals in the Ballroom

This week-end was the winding down of the 2007 Taylor Hicks Whomp Tour and my own “Hick Tix and Fix Tour” also known as the “Traveling Circus”. It had been a great three months which started in February. I had traveled almost every week-end, missing only one Saturday concert since the tour began.

I’d met a lot of people, been to a lot of cities, many of which I’d never been before, visited a number of beautiful old theatres and made lots of memories. As I boarded my plane on Friday morning, I couldn’t help but wonder how it was all going to end. I imagine Taylor was probably thinking the same thing while planning the final two shows of his inaugural tour!

For my flight to Portland, I had to change planes in Minneapolis and Seattle. I needed those legs and miles for the summer tour, so I didn’t mind. It would give me a chance to nap and reflect (if I was awake!). I just knew I had been at the first nights of the tour, and I was going to be at the last nights as well. I wanted to know if Taylor had changed, improved or failed.

By now, I had already been to 22 concerts in as many cities. I knew what to expect as far as talent and performance. I didn’t know which songs would be performed or their order. No two shows had been alike. That was good! They were always fresh and fun. Portland would be no different. What I had expected had occurred – Taylor had improved with each performance, constantly refining and reformatting each song as necessary. What started out as mostly “Taylor Hicks” songs from his self-titled first major CD had become more about Taylor’s own original music and some great covers. I had witnessed the transformation and growth.

And tonight I would witness a fire that I had seen many times burn hotter – so much hotter that if the flames burned any higher, the Crystal Ballroom would have gone up in flames. Not down in flames, but UP in flames! Taylor was “hawt”, as they say!

Fortunately I had been warned about the floor of the Crystal Ballroom, an old dance hall built in the 1920s (at least that’s what I was told). The floor had a suspension system that allowed it to vibrate with the music. Walk across it and you knew it was going to move. Kind of like trying to walk on a boat or airplane, in a way. Unsteady, at least for me! Whenever I stood up to take pictures, I had to brace myself! What a trick to do!

The doors finally opened. Handicapped first, break the line second and the everyone else free-for-all last. I went in first by way of an old metal elevator. I was sure someone was in the attic having to run the pulleys! If there had been the metal door to close after the glass door, I would have known someone was operating pulleys!

After getting off the elevator I surveyed the room. Large medallion-type pictures adorned the walls. They were huge in size. A couple of very large crystal chandeliers provided most of the light. Be sure to check out the pictures below for the interior of the ballroom!

There were benches lining the wall, and I sat down. Several friends decided to stand near me. As Taylor sang the opening song, “Gonna Move”, my friend said “Taylor’s on fire tonight!” as I replied “If he were any hotter, the place would be on fire!” The crowd of men, women and children were cheering, clapping, singing and dancing right along with
Taylor. No one was complaining except for the heat! My hair was dripping wet and I was sitting down most of the time! When I said Taylor was hot, I meant it!

Without taking a breath, Taylor launched into “Give Me Tonight.”
It was incredible! An acoustical favorite, “Hell of a Day” was tagged with “Another Brick in the Wall”. This was definitely the place to be! I sat a bit, and stood a bit. The crowd was enjoying the show, and we were all starting to sweat right along with Taylor.

“Medicated Goo” was guaranteed to heal anything that ailed us! The beat is funky, and while more like typical rock, is a crowd pleaser. I’ve come to expect to hear this, and I’m always energized when I do! Written for a “crazy friend”, Taylor sang “My Friend”, an original written by Taylor long before his American Idol debut. Taylor threw in “The Deal” for good measure.

Taylor’s current single, “Just to Feel That Way” was also well received. Following the single, “Compared to What”, a cover that has been a concert standard. Throw in another Taylor Hicks original “Hold On to Your Love” and the Taylor had the crowd begging for more!

I was glad to hear another cover, “Run Baby Run” make an appearance. Taylor’s voice is just perfect for this, and with Melanie’s harmony and anyone else’s, the song is just beautiful! Definitely one I think Taylor should consider recording. (And Rod Stewart’s “Young Turks” is another I’d like to see Taylor record).

No concert is complete without “Soul Thing”, another Taylor Hicks original. Back to the self-titled CD, “Taylor Hicks” for “Heaven Knows”,
”The Maze”, “The Right Place” and “The Runaround”. There didn’t seem to be a lot of tags with the songs tonight, or at least I didn’t notice that much. The show seemed to move quite quickly, almost too quickly for me! I may have been sweating just like Taylor, but I wanted more!

The most I was going to get was the encore. “Rockin’ Pneumonia and the Boogie-Woogie Flu”, throw in some “Hey Pokey Way”, and then stir in “When the Saints Go Marching In”, and we were done! We were cooked to perfection! The show was over, and time to leave. I needed a blow-drying for my hair, and so did everyone else!

As we left the venue, we decided to check out the bus scene. We waited around for a while and then decided to check out another corner. No luck tonight. Not that any of that really mattered. We’d just witnesses a fabulous show and the successful conquering of anyone in attendance that was not completely Taylorized before the concert began!

As we walked back around the block to where the closest food was, we were talking about the show and our various takes on it. We tried to get food and beverages in one place, but no one came over to help us. Being we were all ladies, we decided to get up quietly and exit the closest door. Around the corner to another restaurant we trekked.

Success! The hostess showed us a table and we decided we needed more room. A little furniture rearrangement and we had what we needed. We placed our order, waited for our food, and then practically inhaled it when it arrived! We were hungry, and our meals were delicious. I think we all ordered the same thing – the 3-cheese pasta!

We went back to our hotel to get ready for bed. I needed to check email and the boards, and hopefully upload my pictures. After everyone arrived back to the hotel, that adjoining room door was opened, and most of us were in one room reliving the concert! A bunch of grown women were having a great time just chatting and laughing about the entire evening.

Not a lot of sleep was really gotten. We were all up early, and thank goodness someone volunteered to go get coffee and muffins! Everyone got ready to check out of the hotel and pile into our respective cars. We were headed to Seattle for the final show on Saturday. Watch out, Seattle, you may find the Soul Patrol will be sleepless while there!

Pictures from the Crystal Ballroom

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Thursday, May 10, 2007

The Traveling Circus Sees the Lights of Vegas

Saturday morning came quite early after being out until the wee hours of the morning sight-seeing in Los Angeles. A shuttle trip to the airport, check in, find the gate, board the plane and I was off to see the lights of Las Vegas! The last time I was there was for an emergency landing to take a passenger off the plane. And a daytime landing doesn’t do the city justice!

I made my way from the arrival gate to the baggage claim to meet my traveling buddy. Nice airport. Even nicer one-armed bandits! I must have passed a dozen sections of slot machines – all different kinds! With all the casinos around, I wasn’t expecting to see this in the airport. I don’t know why. After all, I was in Vegas, as it’s known by its frequent visitors and inhabitants!

My friend arrived about an hour after me. We collected her luggage and made our way to the hotel, the MGM Grand, and checked in. Venue for the big boxing match that night. A couple of boxers named Mayweather and De La Hoya. I don’t understand why two supposedly grown men want to beat each other up! It didn’t really matter to me – I was going to see Taylor Hicks in the House of Blues at the Mandalay Resort.

We had to get over to the House of Blues for dinner early. Also, my friend had won a meet and greet so we definitely needed to get there early so she could pick up her pass. We grabbed her pass and then headed to the House of Blue Restaurant for some fortification before the show. There wasn’t a lot of time to spare, but with the Soul Patrol Party in the dining room, we just had to stay a bit and socialize! It was a lot of fun!

With our receipt in hand, we found the “break the barricade line” and took our places. Well, I stood in line while my friend went to the M&G. I was holding her place until she came back out. Now the House of Blues tends to not allow cameras, and tonight would be no exception. After the meet and greet, we checked our cameras and stood in line waiting for the doors to open. I didn’t care about getting the best standing place – I had a front row balcony seat, which was great!

The Boogie Board planned to host a cellcert for the concert, and I had agreed to be the host at the concert. I called my contact and we ran our test. The night before proved futile because of the tin roof, but this concert was going to be heard! The test was successful, so we hung up and waited until closer to show time to connect.

I found my seat and sat down. From my vantage point, I could see the rest of the balcony with its elevated rows of seats and the standing area in front of the stage. Now this stage was high up! It would hurt is someone fell off! Hope Taylor had already checked that out during the sound check!

The doors opened at 7:00 and the show was scheduled to start around 8:30. Some of the natives were getting restless when 8:00 rolled around and the show hadn’t started. The male half of a couple sitting behind me started talking very loudly about leaving if the show didn’t hurry up and start. OK, sir, please settle down and practice a little Southern patience. You will be rewarded, I promise!

As the guys were setting up the stage, I could hear laughter. I peeped between the balcony rails to see a couple of the stage guys pretending to try on white ‘granny’ panties – you know, the full cut, covers everything, cotton panties! What a hoot! After the display, the undies were tossed into the inside of the drums! Is that what makes “The Runaround” such an upbeat tempo of a song?!?!?!

The screen went up; the band took their places and the opening montage started. Brian Less, in his best voice, announced TAY-LOR HICKS! Out came the man of the hour wearing a beautiful gray paisley shirt with the sleeves rolled up, usual jeans and black sneakers. Again, no jacket! Casual Taylor – I like it! And for the record, the black band was in full view.

It’s hadn’t hit me just yet, even though I knew what day it was. This was Cinco de Mayo. Taylor was about to wish us a great Cinco de Mayo with and throughout the concert! Cinco de Mayo, Taylor, Cinco de Mayo!

To take us to church and get funky, as Taylor put it, he opened with “Gonna Move”. It’s an appropriate opening because it prepares you for what’s about to happen. Forget about the words to the song, think about just being moved – moved to dance, moved to hear good music, moved to remember the seventies!

Next came “Give Me Tonight” and Taylor guitar picking on “Hell of a Day”. I don’t know if “Another Brick in the Wall” was a tag or the entire song. Doesn’t really matter, ‘cause “what happens in Vegas, stays in Vegas!” Taylor told us so!

Forget it, Taylor, I have to tell them about the show! Some “Medicated Goo” and the place was rocking! I took a couple of hard looks at Taylor’s hair – what! A duck-tail in the front! Taylor had the bangs sort of straight out and in a point in the front that resembled a duck’s tail! It was so cute! With his famous ‘belly roll’, some tagged “deluxe apartment in the sky” and a hand gesture from Taylor, Brian Gallagher was playing a saxophone solo!

His album single, “Just to Feel That Way”, was next. WOW! Taylor told us he wrote the next song for a ‘crazy friend’ of his. Ah, the funky beat of “My Friend”! Brian pulled out his clarinet and Taylor blew on the harp! Another chance for Taylor to eat the harp like corn on the cob! Taylor’s ability to play the harp just leaves me breathless! More like unable to breathe because I had blown that thing with him!

A couple more Taylor Hicks’ originals, “The Deal” and “Hold on to Your Love” were next. Taylor mentioned that “Hold on to Your Love” resulted from an idea from Harry Bellefonte. I don’t know any more than that, but who cares! We had some tags of “Jump in the Line” and Felix bass solo. Taylor doing a salsa-style dance. Some more tags and a Josh Smith guitar solo. Taylor finally decided to chug some bottled water. ‘Bout time!

“Wherever I Lay My Hat”, from his self-titled album, is definitely one of my favorites. I can only imagine what Taylor must be feeling when he sings that song. Currently, his home is on the tour bus or some hotel room. I know how I feel when I do a lot of traveling, and Taylor’s doing a lot more than I do, so I’m sure he’s starting to feel the pangs of homesickness! However, the song is great to put in some tags like “Night Shift”.

Another funky song, “Heart and Soul” gets us moving and grooving. Throw in some “Brown-Eyed Handsome Man” for good measure. We were even taken to the ballpark for the high fly into the stands! Loren seems to love to play those notes! A little ‘chicken strut’ and a mullet toss for good cheer! Cinco de Mayo!

Rod Stewart did us right! “Young Turks” is another favorite of the tour. Taylor dances to the edge of the stage and all across. He points to his head. We know, it’s silver. Oh, you mean ‘don’t let them put you down, don’t let them push you around’! Take that critics! Taylor don’t care!

Back to the album for “Heaven Knows” and “The Maze”. More Cinco de Mayo and then off the stage to chug the water bottle while Al does a bass solo. Some cow bell. Did someone say, “more cowbell”? We got it and then some! Loren played a little solo. Some great tags with “Warm Love” and “Mama Said”. Maybe a couple of others. Some harp. And a few pats on his chest.

Loren wrote “The Runaround”, and hopefully it was for Taylor. What a great beat and shows a rocking side of Taylor. Taylor told us it had been an amazing one year and three months. And that dreams do come true! Yes, I’ve also had an amazing year and some months! Keep it up, Taylor! Keep it up!

The introduction to “Soul Thing” according to Taylor was that the song was writer in LA. As in lower Alabama! As he sings and gives Josh a guitar solo, Taylor stands nearby playing his own “air” guitar. When Taylor tags “Turn on Your Love Light”, the house lights come on and Taylor points to the balcony and asks “did you get healed tonight?” Now if anything had ailed me, I’m sure I was cured! “East Bound and Down” and some harp finish the song.

By now, I notice a little girl, maybe five or six, sitting on the front guard rail, being held by her father. She’s clapping constantly as she watches. She’s caught Taylor’s eye! Taylor sings directly to her at one point! Before the first set ends, Taylor jumps over the stage speakers and hands his harp to the little girl!

As Taylor is waving good night, a large white padded bra, maybe a double-D with stars outlined near the points, is thrown up on stage. It hits the floor. Taylor reaches down and picks it up. What! Taylor puts the bra on over his shirt, but it’s obvious the man doesn’t know how to put it on. But he sure knew how to take it off in record time! We get the silly toss of the bra to the floor like it’s on fire! And Taylor leaves the stage.

Encore! Encore! Taylor wants to know if we’re winning any money in the casino. How can we – we’re busy listening and watching Taylor! Better than a royal flush at the tables for me! Boss Skaggs’ “Low Down”! Most everyone in the balcony is now standing! Some “Soul Patrol” shout outs. As the song ended, Taylor strutted off the stage doing a salsa! Or was it a tango! Either way, it was great! A bit more music from the band and the concert was over!

I found my friend and we chatted a few minutes with Brian Less. Security was intent on clearing the concert hall quickly, so we weren’t allowed to stay very long. They would carry you out if necessary! Ok, I’ll leave!

We decided to find a couple of slot machines to give our money to. At least my friend did! The machine I was on was hot! Fifteen coins, 50 coins, 75 coins, 254 coins! Now if all I had done was win, that would have been one thing. But I was up. I was down. I was down and then back up. My friend kept watching as I pushed the maximum bet. Finally I was a whole thirty cents over my original bet. Time to fold ‘em and cash in!

Since neither of us really ate a lot at dinner, we decided to return to the scene of the crime and try again. We leisurely ate and rested our feet. My friend had been standing for about six hours and her feet were numb! I’d sat through most of the concert, but still I could sit some more!

It was time to catch a cab back to our hotel. Little did we expect to find a long line waiting for cabs. We met a couple of other ladies who had been to the concert and decided to share a cab. We wanted to go up one end of the strip and back down to see all the lights and casinos. Our driver had other plans. He was rather indignant with our request, but in the end we got what we wanted, albeit by way of the back roads. He’s not much happier now than he was then. So much for professional and courteous behavior.

Since we both were flying back the next morning, we packed and got ready for bed. I slept very soundly for a change. It was hard to get up when the alarm went off and the wake up call rang. But we got ready and checked out. Back to the airport. My original flight was a red-eye, but I decided to try to fly stand-by to get in late Sunday. Thank goodness for my silver elite status – I was successful! I had flown to LA in first class and home in coach. Who cared! I was on my way home! Got to get rested up to do it this again next week-end! Stick around. Portland and Seattle will be coming soon!

Sunday, May 6, 2007

The Traveling Circus Drives Down Hollywood's Sunset Strip

My daughter dropped me off early in the morning so I could catch my flight to Los Angeles, or LAX, as it’s known. Beautiful day with sunshine and a light breeze. Perfect flying weather. No flight delays today.

After landing at LAX and deplaning, I found the SuperShuttle stand. Told the people where I needed to go. Boarded my shuttle. Off to the hotel, an older Ramada on Wilshire Boulevard, but clean. A friend was picking me up to go to the show and give me a midnight tour of the city.

Shortly after getting to the hotel, I had called to make dinner reservations for us so we could “pass the line” for the show. It was going to be standing room with a few reserved seats. We had reserved seats, but my friend planned to stand.

As we are driving to the House of Blues on Sunset Strip, I’m busy chatting and drinking in the sights. J town, C town, G town. I can’t remember them all now! I was mesmerized seeing the city of Los Angeles. This wasn’t my first time, but was definitely one of my best times! The House of Blues, when we arrived, while typical of the design style, appeared dwarfed by the structures surrounding it. And the side street to the parking area reminded me of the downhill slopes of San Francisco – you know the type – where you hope you have breaks when you reach the bottom of the hill!

After we finished dinner, we went into the venue. It wasn’t very crowded, so getting up close wasn’t going to be much of an issue for my friend. I found my seat in the VIP section on the main floor – one of those high bar stool types of chairs – and sat down.

Just before the show started, two couples took the seats in front of me. The wives sat together so the husbands did as well. They seemed to be there to please their wives (and to make sure they went home with them afterwards, I’m sure!). But the night would change the course of what I would see from this group.

The screen in front of the stage soon lifted, the opening montage of “Goldfinger” started and the band took their places. The drums and symbols began to sound, the guitars and keyboards were plucked, and Brian Less shouted, “Ladies and Gentlemen, TAY-LOR HICKS!”

The crowd started cheering as Taylor took the stage. Gray shirt with cuffs requiring cufflinks, requisite jeans, and boots. No jacket! Boots and no jacket! By the way, the cufflinks appeared to be the once given to Taylor Hicks during his tour of his idol, Ray Charles’ studio. The cufflinks he wore were silver in color and appeared to be rectangular in shape. “Gonna Move” was the opening number, and we were about to be moved!

Next we got “Give Me Tonight”. Heck, with the performance we were going to get, I’d give him every night! Time for an original, “Hell of a Day” tagged with “Brick in the Wall”. Listening to Taylor tagging other songs into any song makes me think this man is a musical genius! The flow for one song to another then back to the original is flawless. Remember the two men sitting in front of me? They were just about to get it – I was going to witness two grown men being baptized in the church of Taylor!

Some “Medicated Goo” to get us rocking and heal anything that ailed us. Taylor was moving across the stage from side to side using some of his more sedate moves. Not the jumping or twirling, but the side to side gyrations with feet apart. I could feel the drums riveting through my seat and Taylor’s voice was strong and clear!

His single from the album, “Just to Feel That Way” was one of the best versions I’d heard! And the funky “My Friend” could be felt in my soul! These guys in front of me were getting excited! Revival was just about to start!

Taylor told us that his next song was written when he was in San Pedro, TX. A few chords sounded like “West Texas Sky” (one of my favorite originals), but instead was “The Deal”. I’m ready….where do I sign! The two guys in front of me needed the pens!

By now I’m noticing the mix of the crowd which is pretty much a mixed bag of gender and ages. And I’m beginning to realize that Taylor is really staying more to the center of the stage. Must be the boots he was wearing, or maybe his aerobic mat was missing.

“Hold On to Your Love” with a Brian Gallagher flute solo was calling us to join the choir. Taylor’s chant of being in LA on a Friday night was interspersed with “I Love LA”. Taylor was singing with such intensity, the veins in his neck were standing up and clearly visible! I thought he was about to explode!

With lots of smiles and finger pointing, Taylor moved into “Compared to What” which is really no comparison to anything else with his intensity unless it would be “Medicated Goo” or “The Runaround”. When he got to the red necks part of the song, Taylor was smiling and pointing to himself! OK, so he tried to make us think he was a red-neck! Right! The intensity of his singing only brightened the color of his skin to red. But red-neck, I don’t think Taylor is! In the midst of all the vocals, we get his famous ‘belly rolls’! Take us to church, Taylor, take us to church!

Mixed in “Heart and Soul” were a couple of tags, one being “Brown Eyed Handsome Man”. Was Taylor talking about himself? Taylor continued the song and when he got to the part about the 2-3 count, he pretended to hit the ball and looked over at Loren Gold to see if Loren was paying attention! Both were grinning like a couple of school boys just caught trying to pull some little girl’s pigtails! Taylor did it a second time, and Loren let us know when were in the ballpark! And then Taylor tops it off by mimicking Al as he playing his bass guitar!

The two men in front of me were baptized right then and there, right in front of me! I heard one say to the other “This is the best entertainment I’ve seen in a long time!” Yep, they were just Taylorized!

A show pleaser, “Wherever I Lay My Hat” brought out the sweat. By now, Taylor was on his second bottle of water. The gray shirt was two shades – dry and wet! Some tagging of “Night Shift” completed the song. Taylor announced the next song, “Soul Thing” was written when he was in Southern Alabama. “Long Way to Go” was intertwined with it.

By the time Taylor was singing “Heaven Knows”, the sweat was standing on the back of his shirt. The back was so wet and the sweat standing that it reminded me of seeing small underground streams flow down a rock wall. Taylor’s sleeves were even getting wet while the bottom of his shirt remained dry. That would be tonight’s mystery. How does the top of the shirt roll water and the bottom of the shirt stay dry? I’m still pondering that one!

“The Maze” was next including some tagging that I didn’t recognize. It didn’t matter – I was busy watching Taylor command Felix on the drums. Lots of rolls and beats. A wave of the hand and the boom hit the drums. Taylor by now needed to wipe the sweat from his face and clear his nose. A quick segway was made to “The Right Place”. Yes, we were definitely in the right place tonight!

When he finished, Taylor told us about going to Grammy in the Schools earlier in the day. He met a young man there who told him he needed a trumpet player in the band. The young man got the job! Taylor introduced him as he walked up to take his place with the rest of the band. “The Runaround” was about to have some more horn! And lots of harp!

“The Runaround” incorporated “Big Boss Man”. I thought Taylor was going to eat that harp! The strong pulls and blows were intense. And then Bobby got his trumpet solo! We got “Soul Patrol” acknowledgements. Taylor danced off the stage and shook a few hands in the process. The two men in front of me were very excited. They had just witnessed a great show!

As the stage cleared, the Ray Charles statue got the spotlight. The stage got a stool. We were getting an encore with a guitar solo. The next song was about relationships and “The Fall” was being performed. Not the first time on the tour, but the first time for me to witness. Some ‘la, la, la’ and “The Games People Play” finished the song.

As the rest of the band returned to the stage, Taylor commented on the wonderful perfume that Melanie always wears. As she walked behind him, Taylor bent at the waist and leaned back to follow her scent. Later, outside, after the show, Melanie was overheard saying it must have been her hair butter that Taylor was smelling!

Taylor wanted to get funky as we got “Naked in the Jungle”. During the ‘speak out’ parts, Al did a bass solo. Some “Take You Higher” and “Boom Boom” and sending the squares home! Taylor took Brian Less’ organ as Brian stepped back to hold the microphone. Taylor on the keys – what a sight to behold!

As Taylor was acknowledging the band and waving good night, he handed his harp to a child on the front row! Talk about being a class act! Talk about an excited child! The show was over, Taylor was off the stage, and Brian Less was pounding the keys so hard and fast that it looked like he was brushing the family dog! The concert ended and the house lights come on.

The two men were shaking their heads in amazement. The wives didn’t seem to notice. We chatted for a moment – they were definitely going to see Taylor again! Once was not going to be enough for them! WHOOO! Two more converts! Two more fans! Two more in the house of Taylor!

We made our way outside to see if Taylor would come out and sign autographs. It seems like we were out that for two hours, talking to other fans and band members. But no Taylor. We decided to leave and go for a midnight tour of LA.

For another two hours, give or take, I was taken on a guided tour of the city. Wilshire, Rodeo, La Brea tar pits, museums, shops, famous restaurants the stars like to frequent, downtown, Century City, the I-10. It was a beautiful drive. Even drove down the Santa Monica pier to listen to the ocean! LA is a beautiful city at night. Peaceful in some places. Wealth and middle-class interspersed between the shopping areas. I could see why Taylor loves LA, and why my friend found it a good place to be.

We went back to my hotel to catch a nap before trekking out in the morning for our next adventure. If I thought the lights of LA and Hollywood were impressive, wait till I see the lights of Las Vegas! The traveling circus was on the move.

Pictures: This is normally where I link my pictures to share. Unfortunately, the House of Blues has a very strict ‘No Camera’ policy and Friday night would not be an exception. So folks, I’m very sorry to say that the only pictures I have are the ones in my mind.

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Wednesday, May 2, 2007

The Traveling Circus Travels to Denver

Call me crazy, but I felt the need to go to Denver. Never been there before. Made all the arrangements in just a couple of hours Monday morning. So I flew in on Saturday so I would be able to get a good night’s rest. I was meeting two people the next day to go to the show.

The flight to Denver, including the plane change in Minneapolis, went smoothly. Each leg of the flight was on time. Actually, I think we may have arrived a little early in Denver.

I’ve learned that using SuperShuttle is the best way to go from airport to hotel in a lot of the larger cities. Denver was one of those times. The drive to downtown Denver was peaceful. The high mountains, the Rockies, were in the background. I could see snow still on the sides of some of the ridges. I kept watching the mountains as we drove along.

I could see the downtown skyline with the mountains behind. The majesty of the mountains made the skyline look small and out of place. I wasn’t able to get pictures because of the distance. There appeared to be a haze in front of the mountains. But I could see the ridges well enough to enjoy them. Enjoy them I did!

Early bedtime was not going to happen. I was up late checking email, the Taylor boards, and the news. I did get to sleep in, and even managed a nap! OK, I know, I needed that. After all, I have to get up quite early Monday, like 2:00 AM to get dressed and check out of the hotel. SuperShuttle was to pick me up at 3:00 AM and my flight out of Denver was scheduled to leave at 5:30 AM! Straight to work when I get off the plane and find my car! Yes, I needed that nap!

You see, Denver was never on my list of Taylor Hicks concerts to see. While I was showering last Monday, it came to me that I had to go to Denver. I needed to be there with some special friends.

We met in the hotel lobby. They had a meet and greet so we had to get to the theatre early. With passes in hand, we walked through the lobby and out the back door to the parking lot behind the building. Taylor sat at a table near another set of open doors. As we waited in line, my friends got their items ready to be signed. I wasn’t getting anything signed – I was there solely to take pictures. And pictures I got! Sorry, but for privacy reasons, they won’t be posted.

After the M&G, we walked down to Maggiano’s, an Italian eatery. We found the table with other Soul Patrollers and sat down. However, we decided to leave and go somewhere else because it was so warm in the restaurant. The Hard Rock CafĂ© was around the corner and within spitting distance of the Paramount Theatre. We told the hostess we were in a hurry. They must have given us the fastest server this side of the Rockies, because we were in and out in under an hour! Bless her!

The doors opened at 7:00. After we finished eating we went back to the car to leave left-over dinner and cameras. The theatre has a very strict ‘no camera’ policy so we weren’t going to be able to take any pictures during the show. Drats! Curses! Foiled again! And Taylor had some great facial expressions that I wasn’t going to be able to capture. C’est la vie, as they say in France. C’est la vie! (That’s life, if you don’t recognize the expression!)

A local band was supposed to be the opening act, but for whatever reason, didn’t show up. Too bad. Maybe the van broke down on the way to Denver. On the other hand, it meant Taylor was taking the stage at 8:30 instead of his usual 9:00.

We made stops at the merchandise table. I already have one of everything, so I decided to make a pre-show pit stop! Oh the joys of getting older. Can’t drink the liquor! Can’t hold the tea! I did, however, stop by to get a signed copy of “In Your Time” for a fan from The Official Soul Patrol fan site.

We had seats for the front row! Front row! I had planned to take pictures of my guest enjoying the show, and we needed to be able to sit together. The box office had arranged to let us sit in the front row handicapped seats, which were great. But alas! No cameras were allowed.

I was disappointed that once inside, cameras started to appear and pictures were being taken. One lady wore a media pass but appeared to be using her personal camera. I would have expected her to have had a more professional type of camera instead of the small digital she was using. Camera phones were being used as well as other types of digital cameras. But I was honoring their policy. So I’m sorry folks, there are no pictures from me for this show.

After the opening montage, Brian Less announced Taylor Hicks! Taylor came out from the right side and did his signature wave – left hand under the right elbow with the right hand up! Not sure what that’s supposed to mean, but that’s what he did! Taylor quickly moved into “Soul Thing” as the opening number.

We got quite a mix of music tonight. Lots of “Under the Radar” and “Taylor Hicks” along with a few covers. Let’s see, we got “Give Me Tonight”, “Dream Myself Awake”, “Hell of a Day”, “The Deal”, “Medicated Goo”, “Hold onto Your Love”, “My Friend”, “Just to Feel That Way”, “The Runaround”, and “The Right Place”. At least that’s what I remember.

One tag in the mix, “Don’t Trust Your Neighbor (With Your Baby)”, was particularly special. As he repeated the words “don’t trust your neighbor” Taylor added in “I know!”. Must have lost an old flame to his neighbor! That raised a chuckle from the audience, and I had to make a mental note!

Taylor was Taylor tonight. Never stopping. He was in constant motion dancing, jumping, twirling, what I call ‘rooster walking’, and other moves that only Taylor can do! Pure raw energy. The audience was on their feet most of the night! Me too!

I must confess. It was nice to watch a show for the sheer pleasure of watching Taylor perform rather than from behind a camera! But I did miss being able to capture to great facial expressions Taylor was making tonight! He was beaming and smiling the whole time! And lots of harp tonight! Lots of harp! And with Denver a mile above sea level! Yes, lots of harp! Taylor even sang into the harp mike which gives his voice a different texture! Hard to describe, but it’s incredible to hear!

The show ended all too soon for this fan. The band didn’t have time to fake out the audience. Taylor walked off stage and behind the curtain just long enough to drink some water and catch his breath! Back out he came! As he came out, someone in the center seats threw a flowered looking item that has stirred questions….panties or bra! Taylor caught them in mid-air and then realized what it was and dropped it like a hot coal that was burning his hands! He took a second look and said either “it’s panties” or “it’s padded”. So the debate goes on! Ladies, keep your undies to yourself! Taylor seemed embarrassed by the gesture!

Encore, baby, encore! “Take Me to the Pilot”! Plus several tags, which escape me at the moment! Longest encore I’ve seen yet! I had hoped for “The Fall”, but maybe next time. What an amazing encore! Taylor bowed to the band, waved to the audience and started off the left side of the stage. He turned around and started back across to the right side. As he did, he slapped or shook hands as he went. I moved my guests to the front so they could touch Taylor while I moved back to keep from being trampled.

With the last hand touched, Taylor left the stage. I got a set list for one of my friends as they were being passed out by the stage crew. Our next plan was to go outside to the buses. But first I needed to retrieve my camera from her car. Our wait wouldn’t be for too long. Taylor must have taken a quick shower or at least changed shirts. Someone said he was doing a meet & greet after the show.

Now the buses were a good 100 feet or so from the back door of the theatre. As security walked Taylor to the bus area, everyone was very respectful – no one moved towards him. He moved behind the security rail and quickly started signing whatever was handed to him. I snapped a few pictures, but with a cap on and looking at what he was signing, I’m afraid I didn’t get such very good shots. OK, maybe one good shot!

I watched as Taylor worked around the railing. He signed whatever was handed and looked up from time to time. In front of me was a young boy, maybe 10 or so, with Downs Syndrome. Taylor had said little up until that time. But with this lad, he stopped and chatted a bit, asking “How’s it going, buddy?” There was an exchange of four or five sentences and then Taylor moved on. I can tell you this, Taylor was definitely the real deal with this young lad. The sincerity just oozed from Taylor’s pores. Too bad I couldn’t get to Taylor to let him know just how special that exchange was.

After Taylor finished signing everything, security took him to a waiting car. Taylor turned and waved as he got in the back seat. The car drove off, and Taylor was gone. We continued to stand around talking and taking pictures with other members of the band.

It was getting late, and I needed to go back to the hotel to try to take a nap. Forget that! Here I sat typing away. Taylor’s Angels’ blog entry. My blog entry. What has Taylor been quoted as saying, “If you’re having fun, sleep can wait!” Tell my boss that in the morning!

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Some of My Favorite Pictures